Frontiers Records [Release date 10.07.20]
For afficionados, these are instantly recognisable protagonists. Shining Black matches up Mark Boals, a gun for hire vocalist, with the perhaps lesser known Olaf Thorsen, guitarist with Labyrinth and Vision Divine.
It plays out along conventional melodic metal lines… every song has the air of familiarity that genre fans expect, with Boals and Thorsen executing their chosen roles with precision and grace.
In fairness, Boals is a much better vocalist than his “I sang with Yngwie”, and “Raiding The Rock Vaults” in Vegas credentials suggest. He has a remarkable, 3 octave range, which on its own suggests he could find a place in the vanguard of any rock genre. He is a ringer for Joseph (Toto) Williams on ‘Boogeyman’s higher registers… avoiding the harshness of tone we hear from so many others in the genre.
But throughout the album, he is never less than impressive. He approaches the fever pitch of confrontational intensity that “Where Are Your Gods’ needs in much the same artistic/ professional manner as he does on ‘The Day We Said Goodbye’s relatively sotto voce moments.
‘My Life’ stands out, not just because it’s a cracking song, but because it cuts against the album’s stylistic grain, putting the emphasis on “melodic”, rather than “metal”.
And ‘The Carousel’ and ‘House Of Fallen Souls’ search vividly and enthusiastically (and very tunefully) for the spark that will set the music alight, without ever quite making it.
That said, ‘We Fall’, a fast unfolding melodic metal epic, wrings maximum drama from an “end of the world as we know it” lyric, and closes the album in fitting style, reminding us that we need to act, and act fast. ***1/2
Review by Brian McGowan
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